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Epilepsy Health Center

Avoiding 'Pokemon' Seizures From TV, Video Games

Rapidly Flashing Lights May Trigger Rare Seizures, Experts Report
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TV, Video Games Don't Cause Epilepsy continued...

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, photosensitivity epilepsy is more common in children and adolescents, especially those with generalized seizures, and becomes less frequent with age.

"The risk of having a seizure if you are sensitive is only one out of 17,000 viewers if you are young," says Erba. "If you are older, it's even less. It's one out of 90,000," he says.

Those numbers came from studies done in England a decade ago, Erba notes. "It doesn't reflect today's situation, with all these new video games that are coming on the market," he says.

Expert's Advice for Parents

An electroencephalogram (EEG) test is needed to check for light sensitivity, says Erba. EEG tests can monitor the electrical activity of the brain during light stimulation; an abnormal response can indicate light sensitivity.

Should parents ask for that test for kids who play video games?

Erba says it might be worth consulting a doctor about that if kids are "very, very engaged in video game playing and so forth" and if a family member is known to be sensitive to light or has certain types of epilepsy that are more likely to be associated with the problem.

Under those circumstances, Erba says his suggestion for parents is to talk to a doctor "and figure out whether it might be worthwhile to get [the child] to have an EEG."

If the child is not sensitive, "there is no danger. But if they are sensitive, they should probably take precautions," says Erba.

"To have seizures, you have to be sensitive and you have to be exposed to a combination of factors that will bring you over the brink," he says.

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